L.A. County To Take Over Skid Row Clinic From UCLA

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County will take over operation of a downtown skid row clinic at the Union Rescue Mission from UCLA, under an agreement finalized today by the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended acquiring the clinic and equipment at no cost from UCLA. The university lost its grant to operate the site and had let URM know it planned to shut down, according to the board motion.

``By stepping up to operate the clinic at the Union Rescue Mission, Los Angeles County DHS will be playing a vital role for thousands of skid row residents on their journey out of homelessness,'' Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. ``Not only will it provide desperately needed care for acute and chronic medical conditions, DHS will also connect patients to mental health and substance abuse disorder treatments, and help them transition out of homelessness.''

The clinic, which opened in 1983, handles an estimated 4,000 patient visits annually.

The cost of operations was not detailed in the motion and was not immediately available, but the Department of Health Services said it would be covered through Medi-Cal Managed Care, Medicare and other DHS funding sources.

The county plans to operate an open-access clinic providing care for acute and chronic medical conditions with a focus on coordinating care with primary and specialty care providers, according to DHS.

Healthcare workers will also coordinate with the department's Housing for Health division to help patients find permanent housing.

``Elevated, trauma-informed care with a deep focus on harm reduction and access to permanent housing is a full circle approach to serving our clients,'' said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the DHS director. ``This partnership will increase opportunities for delivering whole-person care with a prescription for housing.''

DHS also plans to partner with other county departments to offer access to substance abuse and mental health treatment and to continue to provide dental services offered by USC and physical therapy offered by Mount Saint Mary's University.

``This is the kind of comprehensive crisis response we need to address the humanitarian catastrophe on our street,'' Ridley-Thomas said.

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